Shane Victorino, a dedicated fan of the late Bob Marley, always comes to the plate to one of his songs. It’s usually “Buffalo Soldier.” But in this homestand, Victorino switched to “Three Little Birds.”
The crowd has picked up on it and started to swing along.
“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right,” was wafting through the lower section of Fenway on Tuesday and Victorino was smiling as he walked to the plate.
“They did that in Philly, too,” he said. “It’s cool. I really love it.”
What better sentiment on a night Jon Lester pitched so well? The big lefty pitched into the seventh inning in a 6-2 win. Lester allowed two runs over 6.1 innings and matched his season high with eight strikeouts. Of equal significance was that Lester didn’t issue a walk.
“This was a big game for us,” manager John Farrell said. “For him to come out and respond and take control of the game as he did — very encouraging.”
“He looked like himself,” teammate David Ortiz said. “That’s the guy we need. He’s huge for us.”
In his last two starts, Lester has changed the distribution of his pitches. In two-strike counts, he has gone away from his cutter and more to the other pitches.
The cutter, while has been an effective pitch for Lester in recent years, had become predictable in its use.
“If you talk to anybody that’s going to face me, I think that’s always in the back of their mind as far as a pitch that I’m going to try to get you out with,” Lester said. “If you’re able to maybe show it a little earlier and show some pitches that you normally don’t throw later in the count you can get some mis-hits and swing-and-misses. It’s a game of adjustments. You always have to constantly make adjustments and we’re doing that right now.”
Lester got three strikeouts with his four-seam fastball against the Rays, two with his curveball, two with his sinker, and one with a changeup.
If Lester can build on that performance, it would be a big lift for the Sox, especially with Clay Buchholz not coming back any time soon.
• The Sox scored three runs in the eighth inning off Kyle Farnsworth to wrap the game up.
Mike Napoli doubled with one out and took third on a single by Jonny Gomes.
Stephen Drew’s single — his first hit since coming off the disabled list on Saturday — scored Napoli. Gomes took third. After Drew stole second, Jose Iglesias then bounced a ball into the hole on the left side, the ball sneaking through onto the outfield grass. Gomes scored and Drew tore around the bases to beat the throw to the plate.
It was a rare two-run infield single and the Sox were in control.
• The Sox are 34-18 at Fenway with wins in 11 of their last 14. They won 34 games at home all last season.
• The Sox are 20-1 when they score first at home.
• Mike Napoli (2 for 4) is 9 of his last 24 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and four RBIs.
• Koji Uehara, who pitched a perfect ninth, has allowed one earned run in his last 21 innings since June 10. Only two of the last 24 batters he has faced have reached base. His ERA is down to 1.59 and he has 65 strikeouts in 45.1 innings.
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 25 doubles, matching Dustin Pedroia and Napoli for the team lead.
• Sox pitchers struck out 13 without a walk.